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By ANDREW SHEELER
Daily News Staff Writer
The Ketchikan City Council will meet in special session Thursday to hear a presentation from the nonprofit OceansAlaska and begin planning for the 2014 budget process.
Barbara Morgan of OceansAlaska will make the presentation. She said the nonprofit plans to ask the city for financial support for its mariculture operation. She said OceansAlaska hadn’t arrived at a final number yet, but the Ketchikan Gateway Borough voted to fund it at $144,000 a year for two years for operational expenses and also awarded it $50,000 for capital expenses. Morgan said OceansAlaska’s goal was to move into a larger facility, capable of producing more oyster seed, or spat.
"We need to be able to make that bridge between now and being able to move into that building,"?Morgan said. She said she sees Ketchikan becoming a "hub" for mariculture, that oysters and geoducks one day could rival salmon for financial importance to the region.
Citing a desire to get an early start on the 2014 budget deliberation process, Council members requested a budget planning meeting earlier in the year. The meeting is to give the Council a chance to inform the city about any budget priorities it has, said Assistant City Manager Dave Martin.
City Finance Director Bob Newell said he will present the final 2012 revenue figures at the meeting. Council members previously only had projections for last year’s earnings.
At the end of 2012, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough assessor determined the value of all city property to be $857,407,200, a nearly $49 million increase from the year before.
Last year, the Council voted to raise the city mill rate from 6.2 mills to 6.7 mills. That translated into a property tax increase of $100 for a house valued at $200,000. The mill rate increase went into effect on July 1, the beginning of the borough’s fiscal year, because the borough collects taxes on behalf of the city.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday in Council chambers. There will be time for public comment at the start of the meeting.